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The Fossil Record Since Darwin

The fossil record has yielded many secrets since the times of Charles Darwin. There were many missing 'intermediate forms' in Darwin's time, as he recognised, but these have been found in the subsequent century. Notably, fossils have been found supporting the connection between marine and terrestrial organisms, and outlining the early ancestors of humankind. The mysteries of the Precambrian have been partly revealed. But problems remain: to what extent is the fossil record one of advancement? How inevitable is the course of evolution? Where is evolution going? 

These questions will be examined in the context of new discoveries. 


Richard Fortey (Natural History Museum)


Since getting his PhD from Cambridge in 1971 Richard Fortey has worked at the National History Museum in London, where he has pursued an active research career on palaeontology (especially trilobites and graptolites) and on Ordovician geology. He has published close on two hundred research papers, and the significance of his contribution was recognised by his election to the Royal Society in 1997. A particular research interest has been reconstructing Ordovician palaeocontinents, which has entailed his interacting with a variety of other geologists beyond his specialised field. He has also pursued a parallel career as a science writer on geology, with several books to his credit, some of which have been 'bestsellers' and won, or been shortlisted for a major book prizes, and translated into eight languages.

Richard was awarded the Lyell Medal of the Society in 1996. Richard served as Vice President of the Geological Society 1991-2 and then as President during our BIcentennial year in 2007. He was first author on the Ordovician Correlation Chart published 2000, and has sat on the Awards Committee on several occasions. Outside the society, he has served on the NERC Research Grants committee, Council of the Royal Society, and has been President of the Palaeontological Association. He received the senior medal of the Zoological Society of London (2001) in recognition of his research and the Lewis Thomas Prize of Rockefeller University (2003) in recognition of his popular writing.